A Republican View of U.S.-Mexico Relations

An article (Editorial Pages, May 28) by Bruce Babbitt, Democratic governor of Arizona, complains that the Reagan Administration is "pushing a good neighbor too far." He writes that the downward spiral of our relationship with Mexico requires a change of attitude in Washington, including the personal attention of the President of the United States.

I would contend that no President in the history of the United States has devoted more personal attention to Mexico nor has done more to ensure close personal contact between the leaders of our two nations than Ronald Reagan. As you will recall, even before his inauguration, President-elect Reagan met with the then-President of Mexico Lopez Portillo. He has followed that with regular meetings with President Miguel de la Madrid.

The problems encountered in the broad range of relations between the United States and Mexico are not the result of an insensitivity on the part of one government or another. They are the result precisely of the differences that mark our two cultures, two societies and two distinct histories of development.

During the recent 25th annual Mexico-U.S. Interparliamentary Conference, which I attended, one of the conclusions of the meeting was the recognition that despite the many problems that affect our bilateral relations our ties are like a marriage, where we can have disagreements and differences of opinion, all the while knowing our basic relationship is sound. That in no way minimizes the problems we share, but there is certainly no lack of perseverance on the part of the Reagan Administration to seek to address those problems in a way that is both beneficial to U.S. interests and also sensitive to the needs and interests of Mexico.

Some of the areas that Babbitt chooses to criticize strike me as either hypocritical or ill-informed. He points to the appearance of delegates from the conservative opposition party PAN at the Republican National Convention in Dallas as an inappropriate affiliation with the American right but ignores the appearance of delegates from the government party PRI at the Democratic National Convention.

The governor also criticizes the Administration for its handling of trade issues with Mexico. He acknowledges the agreement in April reached by Mexico and the United States for the application of an "injury test" for Mexican imports that compete with the products of American industries in exchange for Mexico's ending of export subsidies, but he ignores the statement issued at the same time which expresses the intent of both nations to negotiate a comprehensive, bilateral trade and investment agreement.

Immigration issues remain, yes, but the proposals coming from the Reagan Administration and the Congress are not suggesting 2,000 miles of fence be erected as a way of solving that problem, as I recall was the case from the previous Administration.

During the Interparliamentary Conference, there was a full discussion of all the problems that affect the relations between the United States and Mexico. We touched on political, economic, social environmental and cultural issues. There was a candid, frank exchange of views that clearly laid out the concerns of both nations. But, with those discussions on the parliamentary level, reflecting the same nature as talks held on a diplomatic or even presidential level, both sides agreed that our problems can be solved and will be solved with the continued good will and spirit of cooperation that has been the cornerstone of our ties over the past 4 1/2 years.

As a Republican member of Congress, I do not presume to speak for the Administration in defense of its foreign policy. However, from firsthand knowledge in my capacity as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am certain this Administration has regained the respect and confidence of our friends and allies around the world.


Member of Congress

19th District


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